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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-13

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Denktash ready for Cyprus proximity talks
  • [02] Nicolaides denies corruption charges
  • [03] Man arrested for village arson
  • [04] Parents vow to step action against foundry
  • [05] Market shrugs off suspensions to rise again
  • [06] Disy rift over Markides attack on deputies
  • [07] Police to hand over information on Lockerbie suspects to Scottish police
  • [08] Callaghan says US vetoed 74 intervention to protect spy facilities

  • [01] Denktash ready for Cyprus proximity talks

    By Gokhan Tezgor

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday he was willing to attend proximity talks, days ahead of an expected call by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan for the revival of negotiations.

    But Denktash stuck to his insistence that he be acknowledged internationally as head of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.

    Annan is due in Turkey next week for a European security summit where he and US President Bill Clinton are expected to try to use the recent warming of ties between Greece and Turkey to push for a breakthrough on Cyprus.

    Denktash said in an interview with Reuters that he was prepared to participate in proximity talks to push for recognition of his status equal to that of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. "I will only discuss our status in these talks," he said.

    The proximity talks are aimed at bringing the parties together in separate rooms in preparation for face-to-face negotiations. Bi-communal talks have stalled repeatedly on Denktash's insistence that he be recognised as a head of a legal government on a par with Clerides.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader said he would be open to meeting Annan when the UN chief travelled to Ankara after the summit. "There is nothing planned in that direction but if a meeting of that sort is envisaged and he wants to meet with me, naturally I would be pleased to meet him."

    Denktash also warned that a summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should not discuss the Cyprus problem with the Cyprus Government in his side's absence. "If they (the OSCE) are going to tackle the Cyprus problem it is the right of my people to demand that their representative be heard on equal terms with Mr Clerides," said Denktash.

    Denktash said he would "think twice" before returning to the negotiating table in the event of "any adverse statement that may come from the OSCE, or any false claim by Mr Clerides to his right to be the government of the whole island".

    The Turkish Cypriot leader cast doubt on the ability of international mediators to negotiate issues which he said concerned Greece, Turkey and the two sides on the island.

    "A positive scenario saying that we leave it to the parties to settle their problem and we understand they are political equals... will be more sensible," he said.

    He said the solution to the conflict was simple: "The Greek Cypriot government must say 'We are not the government of Turkish Cypriots'. This is how the Cyrpus problem can be settled."

    [02] Nicolaides denies corruption charges

    By Martin Hellicar

    IMMIGRATION chief Christodoulos Nicolaides yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and corruption in allegedly arranging pink slips for cabaret artistes.

    Nicosia District Court heard that Nicolaides had accepted bribes worth a total of 8,500 to "arrange" work and residence permits for foreign workers. Nineteen charges -- including accepting bribes, demanding bribes as a public official and corruption -- were read out to the suspended immigration chief. He denied all the charges.

    The court set the first hearing for Nicolaides' trial for January 17. He was released on 5,000 bail on condition he surrender his travel documents to police.

    Nicolaides was arrested last month after police launched a probe into alleged corrupt pink slip practices. Three senior officers were tasked to look into information that police officers and others in positions of power were abetting underworld prostitution rackets by providing, at a price, pink slips for foreign cabaret artistes. Some of the documents were said to be forged.

    Another prominent figure arrested after the launch of the same probe was also brought up before Nicosia District court yesterday. Twenty-seven charges were read out against the former organisational secretary of Disy, Andreas Tsangarides.

    He is suspected of illegal employment of foreigners and enticing a public official to abuse his position.

    His lawyers asked for clarification of 12 of the charges. The court adjourned until Wednesday to give the prosecution time to rephrase the charges. Tsangarides will remain in custody until then.

    Tsangarides made the headlines earlier this month when he claimed President Clerides was linked to the permits fraud, allegations which were flatly denied by the government.

    The probe has already led to the charging or arrest of a number of other officials and members of the police force. Senior Immigration officer Nicos Vakanas suspended from office along with Nicolaides last month -- has been charged with alleged offences similar to those on which his boss is accused.

    Limassol police officers Efstathios Theodorou, Demetris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades are also being held for suspected involvement in the permits scam.

    Bambos Anastassiades, twin brother of Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades, is being held on suspicion of providing fake pink slips for 170 each.

    [03] Man arrested for village arson

    A LIMASSOL salesman was arrested at dawn yesterday in connection with a arson attack in Amiandos village a few hours earlier. He was later remanded by the Limassol District Court.

    Two cars, a Mercedes and a Toyota pick-up truck, were completely destroyed in a blaze, which broke out shortly after midnight yesterday. The gutted cars belong to village coffee shop owner Renos Fylaktos, and had been parked next to his establishment.

    Police forensic experts found evidence to suggest the fire had been started deliberately. The blaze caused damage worth an estimated 17,000.

    Stelios Philipou Antoniou, the estranged wife of Filaktou's niece, was arrested in connection with the suspected arson at dawn.

    Twenty-five-year-old Antoniou was later brought up before Limassol District court.

    The court heard that Fylaktos had pointed the finger at Antoniou, saying they had a history of arguments and claiming Antoniou had threatened him.

    Police told the court that the suspect was insisting he was innocent, but that a search of his home and car had turned up empty containers with traces of flammable liquid.

    The court issued a three-day remand order for Antoniou.

    [04] Parents vow to step action against foundry

    By Anthony O. Miller

    NO CHILDREN showed up yesterday at the "smoked-out" 8th Elementary School in Omonia, outside Limassol; only their teachers and their parents did.

    The children were kept home in a protest by their parents at what they say is the continuing threat to their health in the chemical-laden smoke from the Nemitsas foundry near the school.

    "We're going to take whatever means necessary to close the foundry," Bernadette Charalambous, mother of two of the schoolchildren, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    She said the parents group, whose name in English is "Fresh Air Action Group," would meet again on Monday to decide what further action to take.

    "If we have to block the main road, we have to do it. Chain ourselves to the fence, we have to do it," Charalambous said. However, they plan to send their children to school on Monday, she added.

    On Thursday, about 50 children at the eighth Elementary School in Omonia were overcome by smoke from the Nemitsas foundry and required medical attention from two paediatricians from Limassol General Hospital.

    The children complained of headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye and throat irritation from the smoke. Some began vomiting in the schoolyard, said Charalambous, who was one of many parents who took their children home early due to the smoke.

    "How can the government possibly go into the 21st century and approach the European Union with such a situation here in Cyprus," Charalambous wondered.

    Apparently only with considerable difficulty, according to the European Union.

    "The (EU) Commission's Delegation cannot comment on the specific case (of the Nemitsas foundry and the school), though it is aware of it, and records the recent press reports relating to the site," EU Delegation Press Officer Nicholas Karides told the Cyprus Mail.

    "As indicated in the progress report on Cyprus' accession (released in October), the Commission considers that air quality legislation in Cyprus needs to be amended, and identification of zones where there is heavy concentration of pollution needs to be carried out and the necessary action plans drawn up," he said.

    While Cyprus appears to be making "a lot of preparatory efforts" in this direction, "there has been little visible progress" in actually harmonising Cyprus laws, and facts on the ground, with EU law, he noted.

    "Don't speak about EU harmonisation," said an infuriated Edek deputy Demetris Eliades, chairman of the House Environment Committee. "There is a huge gap" between Cyprus and the EU in the environmental sector, "and there is nothing being done towards harmonisation. We insult the meaning of the word, harmonisation, when we speak about the environment in Cyprus," Eliades said.

    Eliades encouraged parents with children in the affected school "to fight for a clean environment, for the quality of life and the health of themselves and their children."

    "We (in the committee) are doing our best to see how we can cope with this mess, where nobody cares about the environment - almost nobody," Eliades said.

    Thursday's incident was the second in a month. On October 14, 47 children at the same school were taken to hospital for examination after voicing identical complaints related to smoke from the Nemitsas foundry.

    Kikis Petevis, Nemitsas Foundry Managing Director, acknowledged that the foundry, owned by his father-in-law former Commerce Minister Takis Nemitsas, emitted smoke when its furnaces operated, "unfortunately once a week; we want to run it every day."

    Petevis insisted foundry air pollution levels were "well within the standards set by the government - 300mg or something_"

    "We do care about the environment," Petevis said on Thursday. "It belongs to everybody, and especially to us, who are the biggest landowners around here, so we own more of the environment than they do," he said.

    "I'm bitter, I'm disappointed," Petevis said, noting the foundry had fed many families in its more than 30 years of operation since times when "there was absolutely nobody around here; just us and the Turkish Cypriots."

    Petevis noted "the 300mg per square something or other I mentioned to you are equivalent of seven diesel cars moving around Cyprus. That's tragic."

    But Eliades said the fact that the school children had again fallen ill from the foundry smoke meant the 300mg limit was not satisfactory. "That means, whether they (the foundry) are within or without the limits, the situation is critical," Eliades said.

    [05] Market shrugs off suspensions to rise again

    By Hamza Hendawi

    PUNCH IT as hard and as much as you like and you can still be certain it will keep coming back.

    Trading on the Cyprus Stock Exchange yesterday kicked off under a dark cloud, caused by the prospect of life on the floor without the three main banks, suspended from trading starting Monday. Adding insult to injury, the exchange banished four other issuers, also effective Monday, then announced the suspension from the floor of five brokerages for delaying the processing of transactions.

    You would have thought that any market would stumble or pause to absorb in the face of such negative news. Not the Cyprus Stock Exchange, not even by a long shot.

    Instead, investors bought and sold vigorously and share prices responded to their vote of confidence with a new all-time high on a volume of about 56.67 million. The all-share index leapt by 48.42 points, or 6.64 per cent, to close at 777.34 on a total of 7,224 transactions.

    A decision by the exchange to suspend the Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank was taken on Tuesday night to allow the three, which between them combine for a little more than 5 billion in share capital, to update their registers and rectify hundreds of erroneous share deeds issued in the confusion of the past few months.

    The three are free to come back to the floor whenever they are ready, but failure to be up to date on share issuing would be severely punished starting from November 29, the exchange has warned.

    Yesterday, the bourse added to the list four other issuers: Cassoulides &amp; Sons, Orphanides Supermarket, Frindlays Investments Ltd and Cy-Venture Capital Ltd.

    The exclusion of the seven issuers, according to traders, would boost interest in small caps, but might in the process distort the market.

    The banks rewarded their faithful handsomely yesterday on their last day on the floor before suspension, with all four titles rising sharply.

    Popular Bank led the rally, notching up 1.22 to close at 15.22. In second place came the small Universal Bank, which rose by 1.1 to close at 9.70. Bank of Cyprus, the market's supremo, was up 76 cents to close at 11.62, while Hellenic Bank marched to 5.62, up 70 cents on Thursday's close. A total of 20.27 million worth of bank shares changed hands.

    The four companies that joined the three banks in suspension had mixed fortunes in yesterday's trade. Cassoulides &amp; Sons, one of the island's leading printers, shed 16 cents to close at 7.06, while Frindlays was also down, by 3.5 cents to close at 1.97. In contrast, Orphanides Supermarkets closed 17 cents up at 5.45, while Cy-Venture notched up 76 cents to close at 7.65.

    [06] Disy rift over Markides attack on deputies

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE ATTORNEY-general's public outburst over the recent release of two murder suspects on a legal technicality is apparently creating a rift within governing Disy.

    Alecos Markides has hit out at three Disy deputies for their failure to vote for an amendment that would allow telephone evidence to be admissible in court.

    The attack would appear to be dividing the Disy camp into those who sympathise with the Attorney-general and those who think his open criticism was out of line.

    Had the amendment been approved, Markides insists, then charges against two suspects in the Hambis Aeroporos murder trial would not have had to be dropped earlier this month.

    Cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51-year-old sister Zoe Alexandrou - who had denied charges of conspiring to murder 36-year-old Hambis - walked free after the Supreme Court ruled key evidence against them was inadmissible.

    The evidence was telephone numbers stored in the memory of a mobile phone abandoned at the scene of the December 16 Limassol killing by the three hit-men. The prosecution wanted to show the Criminal court that Athinis and his sister had contacted the killers in the run-up to the daylight murder.

    Had a relevant bill on evidence been approved by the House last year then the telephone evidence would have been admissible and the suspects would still be on trial, Markides said.

    The bill was voted down in a close vote. Markides said yesterday that had one Disy deputy not voted against, and had two others not been in the House of Representatives coffee shop at the time of the vote, then the bill would have passed. Markides himself is a former Disy deputy.

    Markides has already lashed out at deputies on the House Legal Affairs committee, and its chairman Panayiotis Demetriou (who is also the vice-chairman of Disy) in particular, claiming they were guilty of stalling on sending the bill back to the House plenum for no good reason.

    The committee claims the bill presented by Markides is "fragmented."

    Disy deputies Rikkos Erotokritou and Sofoclis Hadjiyiannis yesterday crossed swords over the evidence issue.

    Hadjiyiannis sided with Markides. "The Attorney-general is saying things as they happened, we should not be annoyed when the facts speak for themselves," he said, referring to the reaction of fellow party members to Markides' claims about "absentee" deputies.

    "My feeling is that certain persons simply do not wish the matter to move on," Hadjiyiannis said.

    Erotokritou took exception to this, insisting Disy had backed the amendment all the way.

    "Disy voted for the bill. The paradox is that though governing deputies voted for, they are accused of being in the coffee shop," he said.

    Three suspects remain on trial for the murder of Hambis Aeroporos, believed to be part of a gangland turf war. One of the accused, waiter Prokopis Prokopiou, 35, has admitted to shooting Hambis and is to be sentenced at a later date. Former policeman Christos Symianos, 35, and former special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, 33, deny charges of pulling the trigger on Hambis.

    [07] Police to hand over information on Lockerbie suspects to Scottish police

    By Jean Christou

    INFORMATION on the alleged activities in Cyprus of the two Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing is expected to be handed over to Scottish officials early next week.

    Scottish police believe there is a Cyprus link to the 1988 airline bombing over Lockerbie; they sent investigators to the island two weeks ago to probe the activities of a third Libyan, a businessman.

    According to unconfirmed reports in yesterday's Phileleftheros, Lockerbie suspects Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima were in Cyprus in October 1988, two months before the bombing.

    They are accused of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in southern Scotland in December 1988, killing 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground.

    Cyprus police are assisting the Scots, who are trying to uncover the relationship that the unnamed third man had with the two Libyans due to stand trial in The Hague next year for the bombing.

    The businessman is no longer on the island, and authorities could not say in what sort of business he was involved. He is said to have used various names while he was in Cyprus.

    Police are also hoping to uncover records of telephone calls the Libyan made when he visited Cyprus several years ago. The businessman used to own an offshore company here in 1992.

    Phileleftheros said information had now been found in the archives of the telecommunications authority, CyTA, and of two foreign banks allegedly connected to the activities of the two suspects, said to have stayed at a Nicosia hotel during their visit.

    The information is expected to be handed over to the Scottish investigators next week.

    Police declined to confirm the developments. Spokesman Glafcos Xenos said the issue was not a matter for the police.

    The trial of the two Libyans is due to start next February in Holland. The two are to be tried there under Scottish law as part of a complex deal agreed with Libya.

    [08] Callaghan says US vetoed 74 intervention to protect spy facilities

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNITED States vetoed Britain's intervention in the Turkish invasion to protect its spying bases in northern Cyprus, former British Prime Minister Lord Callaghan has revealed in an interview to a British paper.

    This is the first time that America's use of spy bases in Cyprus has ever been confirmed, and the issue is to be raised in the British House of Commons.

    In the interview, published yesterday in the Times Higher Education Supplement, Lord Callaghan confirmed that Britain had almost gone to war with Turkey over Cyprus.

    He said that although Britain had sent a task force in 1974, the Americans vetoed any military action that might have deterred Turkey.

    He implied that this was because the US did not want to jeopardise its electronic spying facilities in northern Cyprus and admitted the invasion left the US free to continue spying on Russia and the Middle East from a 'state' it did not recognise.

    "The Turks were willing to let the Americans carry on operating because their presence was a political safeguard against the Russians," he said.

    Callaghan was interviewed for the Times by Brendan O'Malley, co-author with Ian Craig of The Cyprus Conspiracy: American Espionage and the Turkish Invasion.

    O'Malley said that when researching the book, Callaghan had privately admitted that Britain had sent the task force. "It was the most frightening moment of my career," he said. "We nearly went to war with Turkey. But the Americans stopped us."

    The author said that, although Callaghan has in the past shunned interviews about Cyprus, he relented last month.

    Callaghan disputed the authors' conclusion that the division of Cyprus was an international plot at a time when the US was embroiled in the Watergate scandal that toppled the Nixon presidency.

    At the same time, the Labour government had come to power in Britain determined to slash defence spending at a period when spying in Cyprus was increasingly important.

    "We took a decision to cut down on defence and closing one or two of the major bases on Cyprus was a strong runner," Callaghan said, adding that the US military and senior State Department officials repeatedly asked for the bases to be saved, primarily because they could not have taken them over themselves.

    "Cyprus had extreme value as a centre for electronic surveillance of the Soviet Union's nuclear activities," Callaghan said. "So the American's didn't want us to go."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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